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Israeli delegation appears at UAE’s major Gitex tech summit for the first time

Dubai event draws 200 entrepreneurs and businesspeople from Israel for networking with Gulf counterparts

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

People visit an exhibit at the GITEX technology summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
People visit an exhibit at the GITEX technology summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Israeli and Emirati business leaders met in Dubai this week for the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (Gitex) Technology Week, one of the world’s largest annual tech summits.

It was the first time Israelis participated in the conference, a development that followed the normalization deal signed between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi in September.

Organizers said the conference was hosting the largest official meeting of business, tech and investment leaders from Israel and the UAE, with some 200 Israeli entrepreneurs and businesspeople in attendance.

The event was significantly smaller than previous years due to the pandemic, but Israel’s participation and several events focusing on Israel-UAE collaboration gave this year’s Gitex a boost.

The conference features two events centered on Israel — the inaugural UAE-Israel Future Digital Economy Summit on Monday and the Israel Innovation Discovery Day on Tuesday.

The events are aimed at fostering networking between the two countries for business collaboration, investments and the sharing of ideas, with discussions focused on artificial intelligence, 5G technology, mobility, fintech and cybersecurity. Israeli representatives are also holding one-on-one business meetings with their international counterparts.

An Israeli man films a robot as it makes him a cup of coffee at the GITEX technology summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Israeli representatives at the conference include Adiv Baruch, chairman of the Israel Export Institute; Dov Kotler, CEO of Bank Hapoalim; David Leffler, director of the economy ministry; Zeev Rotstein, head of Hadassah Medical Organization; and Yigal Unna, head of the National Cyber Directorate.

Emirati officials at the event include several government ministers, the UAE government’s head of cybersecurity and the director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office.

Gitex is being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre and features over 1,200 exhibitors from over 60 countries. It is the only major global tech show in 2020 that is happening in-person due to the pandemic. Last year, some 4,500 businesses and over 100,000 visitors from 140 countries attended.

Other countries participating in this year’s conference include Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia, Japan and Brazil.

Also in the UAE on Monday, in parallel to Gitex, 200 business leaders from Israel and the UAE took part in the joint “Beyond Business” conference in Dubai.

The Israeli delegation was led by Bank Hapoalim and the Israel Export Institute.

The normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE in September sparked a flurry of activity on both sides, with businesses, investors and startups working to pave the way to strong and open ties between the nations.

The UAE state news agency WAM said Monday that a large number of Israeli exhibitors are expected in Dubai in May for the first time at the Arabian Travel Market, a major annual event focused on the business of tourism in the Middle East.

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